Tag Archives: rock on ruby

Saturday Sermon – Cheltenham Tips, Doncaster Tips and the Wolverhampton Mega Buster Bet!! Merry Christmas.

Good evening from the Major who writes from a wet and breezy Worcestershire.

What a dreadful day of tips at Cheltenhams Friday meeting, from the Major. With the exception of On Fishers Cross who won nicely as I hoped for, the rest of my advice proved expensive to follow. Most simply did not get into it. Broadbackbob a particular disappointment reinforcing an old message that proven accuracy at fences is helpful at the home of National Hunt racing.

Although excuses are weak and pointless, I wrote up the tips when the ground forecast was good to soft and it soon turned soft to heavy after more rain than I expected. The way they finished the first two races, strung out around Gloucestershire, told you it was going to be a slog of a day. Tonight we are better armed with information.

My day of tipping may have been bad but breaking events in America bring some real reflection and perspective to life.

The event is horror itself, anyone would be moved by the ages of the children killed. The innocence, the pointlessness, the incomprehensibility of motive. It is the definition of tragedy.

Massacres like this are peppered through history, read King Theodore of Abyssinia. Minds so insane, so lost that even the first trigger they pull is not enough to sober up their murderous emotion, to draw back from the insane urgings.

The product is body bags, with children inside them.

The Major provides the usual Saturday Service. As usual, no charge is made, I have no service to sell. If you subscribe to the email list in the left hand column or the twitter feed (@tdl123) then I will never peddle premium tips, hotlines or even show you a single advert on the site. No strings attached, ever.

Today, I levy a small fee though. I ask you to commit one unspecified small act of decency at your discretion before sunset.

To the sports.

Cheltenham Tips

We return to Cheltenham with a score to settle. I feel aggrieved and the enemy with his dark twinkling eye will pay.

The opener looks a tasty affair. Far West won a decent Chepstow race before taking a Grade 2 at Cheltenham. While Handazan arguably improved from finishing 12 lengths behind in the Chepstow race, he might be better now too. Still a straight forecast on Far West and Handazan is my ‘double your money’ advice.

In the second, Barry Geraghty seems to have switched allegiance to Highland Lodge from Court in Motion (surely Lingfield bound?) after the latter was smashed here by the David Pipe trained Our Father. The selection is a 6/5 shot but surely still looks a value pick – This grey could be a star and I fully expect another dominant display – back it with an eye watering amount that might help get he economy moving again.

Shooters Wood has a superb record at Cheltenham being 2 from 2 and the Paul Nicholls charge might handle the rise in weights he is allotted. Not the strongest pick though on balance and instead I am chancing my arm that Garynella at 4/1 is on a generous mark – His french form is hard to read but the ground will help and Pipe might be throwing a decent novice at this race.

The 4th is a split contest between some up and coming decent sorts and some experienced old hacks. In the young corner we have Coneygree and Boyfromnowhere, two decent looking sorts. Mon Mome leads the elder horse charge and the Grand National winner looks a forlorn hope aged 12 but may well be staying on late up that hill over this distance which is way too short! On balance, Coneygree looks like the real deal and will surely appreciate going to three miles…. unoriginal but get stuck in.

The Ironspine Charity Gold Cup is the feature race of the day (not necessarily the one I am most looking forward to) and Walkon adds sparkle to the line up. I was looking at this race on an antepost basis earlier in the week and was struggling to find many confirmed mudlarks (I was working an angle that it might be heavy and wish I’d followed it though with a bet). Cristal Bonus was one that fitted the bill and his price has halved in recent days. Walkon also won’t mind the cut. the other two I like are Quantativeeasing, Golden Chieftain and Wishfull Thinking.

Nicholls and Henderson have bagged five of the last ten runnings and there is a strong trend towards six and seven-year olds in the race (12 from last 15 years).

It really leaves me with Cristal Bonus and Quantativeeasing. At 6/1 and 18/1 we can afford to load two cannons. I do like their chances although before he tapes go up, all our dreams are intact.

Cristal Bonus went to Ireland and won nicely in this seasons debut and Quantativeeasing is a little forgotten about after a flop in the Paddy Power but let us not forget he won this last year.

The 3.05 is the race I am waiting for. This is a simmering hot race with the reigning Champion Hurdler, Rock on Ruby, taking on the best Nicholls has in that division, Zarkander and the frail but talented Henderson horse, Grandouet.

There was a feeling that the Champion Hurdle was not the strongest – A bit bitchy if you ask me, what has Rock on Ruby done wrong?

Nevertheless, Rock on Ruby seems in a vulnerable position and Nicholls will fancy a pop with Zarkander who looked all the better for a summer of sun on his back when reappearing in the Elite Hurdle.

Grandouet is my tip. It is a dicey one in some senses, his price probably does not reflect the stuttered build up to here. He missed several assignments, including the Champion Hurdle. Yet, I have always felt that Henderson really fancies this one and the most eye-catching form was when winning this race last year, smashing Overturn…. Have a thick slice, pour on the custard and thank me later.

Oscar Whiskey has a penalty kick in the last race, he will love conditions. and won this last year. If this is the day that Crack Away Jack proves top class, it would not surprise me as I have finally given up backing him, less my burden, he will probably scoot up.

The Wolverhampton MegaCard

Can you believe Wolverhampton have a racecard with 14 events on it, all for a tenner. On one hand it is value, on the other, it is like a large fish and chips, serves a purpose but too voluminous.

Every race bar one is sub £3k winners pot so do not expect much quality – My tip comes in the one race of reasonable merit, the 8.50pm. Forest Edge gets the assistance of Adam Kirby who is having a fine season. He gets a 4lb hike for his Lingfield win but the manner of that victory looked more impressive to me – 4/1 is a gift from the gods.

If you have the stamina for every race then all power to you!

Doncaster Grade Two Tip

By the time, the favourite Vasco Du Ronceray goes off at Doncaster, we will have the manner of Key Wests performance to provide comparative clues as their form is well tied. This is a graded race though and the apprentice aboard the favourite cannot make his claim which effectively penalises the horse.

I am going to chance a tip on Kashmir Peak each way at 8/1 – This one might have more to offer even if this represents a significant step up from the Market Rasen run.

To the football….

Crystal Palace have some talent and I would fancy them to win at St Andrews at 9/5. Bolton are strong but I like 3/1 Charlton who have a very strong squad. Leicester are a tip, they can beat Millwall away (7/5) to make a nice away trixie.

The Martin Hill Lucky 15 is Coneygree, Our Father, Grandouet and Forest Edge – That can pay for Christmas.

I hope your dinner is unhurried, relaxing and in fine company.

Courage and roll those dice.

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Saturday Aintree Tips – 33/1 Grand National Tips and Trends

THIS IS THE 2012 POST FOR 2013 tips, click on the banner above for the home page

Good evening from the Major who prepares these dispatches to prepare my followers and those casual souls who came across the blog for the bookies busiest day….. Aintree’s Saturday Grand National card.

While the Major has been in tip-top form of late, so far, this week, Aintree has been costly. Today, Finians Rainbow and Darlan both delivered at shorter prices but the longer fancied tips did not perform.

Killyglen at 20/1 for the Major.... Enjoy National day

Finians performance was very taking and as I suspected, the step up to two and a half miles around Aintree was right up his street. I think he would be a decent three miler too, particularly if connections make less use of him in races, this could mean he is a King George animal.

Prepare your minds….. Saturday at Aintree, the big showpiece that is the Grand National; courage followers, hold on; hold on while those around you lose their nerve. As your sinews are stretched and worn, at the very breaking point, hold on. Hold the thin red line until you see their eyes. Then play, bet large, go hard or go home, leave nothing.

I have friends on course and to the Streetly crew, I bid you luck, merriment and mischief. Memories of last year are still haunting my soul.

I also apologise for the significant length of today’s post. I know many of you will skip the prose to get to the meat. Well you shouldn’t, it is cheating, you miss the imbalance and insanity that whirls around my dark soul. I gave you the courtesy of revealing my mind, please absorb it, or find yourself a more direct tipster, one with less references to Victorian military history, a more proprietary sort. Only a certain sort will find the following to their personal satisfaction.

If you are one, then sign up to the email service in the left hand menu of follow the Major on twitter @tdl123. I post the Saturday Service every week and top it up with other occasional posts when there is something I like. My results are always posted in the top menus. I turn a very small profit. I never accept criticism or praise – I offer my thoughts for free and encourage all to use their own minds and take responsibility for their actions!

Grand National Tips and Grand National Trends

A colleague of mine approached me today and asked if I would join the office Grand National sweepstake. I did…. twice. As I plucked out Sunnyhillboy and BecauseIcouldntsee (could have been far worse) from the bucket, he asked if I bet on the National.

That is an odd question I thought. He knows I am an incredibly succesful gambler*. He was basing the question on the fact that many regular horseracing punters avoid the national because of the sheer nature of 40 runners, carnage at the fences; is it a race that can be worked through on form or is it a lottery?

*based on The Majors sheer persistency in the overwhelming face of mediocrity

Well the reality is that the National is different to any other race in a few crucial respects.

Firstly it is a national institution and tomorrow morning, thousands of grandmothers, punters, religious nuts, weirdos, wackos, drunks, the unemployable, the toffs, the suburban sorts, the trendy set, well to do Mama’s and every other imaginable demographic of the British public will troop to their local bookie, fiver clutched in hand and back a National horse based on a number or a colour or the fact that there happens to be a Pete or Robert in the family (Rare Bob and According to Pete running tomorrow).

Families have traditions on which horses to back, people have habits. These habits form part of an identity both in the individual and in the nation. The National is a British tradition, a British Institution, we do it our own way. God bless us and protect our privilege as the greatest nation on the planet.

For one day, the general public touches the world beloved to me, horse racing. Some regular racing fans oddly resent these tourists, scoffing at the lack of knowledge. The Major welcomes all with open arms, for I too was once one of you.

If one person today backs a tip in the National and experiences that thrill of being involved, mentally jumping each fence with your horse, emotionally attached to the outcome…. well the world will be a better place. It was for me…. not that long ago either, watching Inglis Drever collect his first World Hurdle, with my money down. A formative day that.

The bookmaking fraternity use the occasion to turn a larger than normal profit….. In this army of small time punters, none will stop to think of the value they are getting from the bookmaker. The over-round charged can be as much as 150% and more. For those unfamiliar with this, it represents how much the market is in the bookies favour. Watch at 4pm as the BBC presenters (of which I am not a fan) will tell you how every horse is being backed and watch those prices collapse. It is Christmas for the bookies as pricing will not effect demand.

The Major is delighted that Channel Four take over from the BBC next year. Search the blog for Channel 4 and you will see I have been a long-term advocate of awarding C4 all UK terrestrial rights – They are there every single week, talk less nonsense, focus more on the racing and get what it is about. They also have a better team. In short, their heart is in it!

I also think that the new measures introduced to make the race safer are sensible and welcome. Levelling some of the landing areas is good, banning six-year olds is excellent as their inclusion was a recipe for fallers. Restricting the handicap improves safety as well as quality…. good cricket all round.

I digress. Back to the sweepstake and whether a tipster should play the National. Many punters do have success tipping the Grand National because the trends are quite strong. Before I discuss the Grand National trends and offer my tips for the 2012 running, a little on interpreting trends.

The key with any betting trend is to ask why it is valid, rather than accepting it blind. If a horse won every time you wore red socks, you would accept that the link is coincidence alone. Yet, many punters back football teams that have not won at a certain venue for 30 years. The Major urges you to ask, why is that relevent? If Preston have not won at QPR for 30 years, is it important? How is the football team that competed 30 years ago influencing the outcome today? Chance stats occur, it is not odd or unusual. In fact coincidences not occurring would be incredibly odd. Of all of the millions of interactions you have every year, it would be strange if at some, a marvelous coincidence did not occur. Perhaps you meet two old school friends in separate locations within ten minutes; maybe you win the lottery; something odd will happen to you soon, don’t read too much into it!

An episode of the Simpsons makes the point about specious reasoning well…. Since I have waffled enough, I shall post it at the base in italics!

Also remember that with any trends based decision, it is likely that the winner will fall down on one. Use trends only as a guide not as a rule; Bubba Watson met all of the Hearty Ploughmans key trends (see 4/5 posts ago) but did not make the final US Masters tips list because he missed on one trend by one shot…. Trends are a guide, not a religion!

The key Grand National Trends for the Major

Weight – Nearly 100 horses in the last 35 years have carried more than 11st 5lbs and none have won. In the last twenty-five years, just two horses has managed to carry more than 11st to victory. This makes sense, the National is a gruelling trial of stamina which is damned tough carrying more weight than your opponents.

French Breeding – French breds have a shocking national record but the Major chalks this down to coincidence, disregarded.

Regular Runs in the Season – All of the last ten runners had more than four runs in the current season – This adds up as you need to be match fit and plenty of recent chase experience is a plus.

Previous National Fences Experience – Eight of the last twelve winners have run over the national obstacles before – This is important to the Major as these fences are the toughest in the land.

Marathon Performers – The last time a winner of the National had not previously won a race at a distance of three miles or more, we were trading in old money! A proven stayer is a must.

Age – Experience is key; nine and ten-year olds have that, without being incumbered with tired, ageing legs. You might get away with a old-hat eight year old.

Pricing – Overall, the markets do perform fairly well in the National; three-quarters of the last two decades of winners have come from the top eight horses in the betting.

Cheltenham Form – Only one winner, in fifty years, has won a race at Cheltenham before going on to win at Aintree. This makes sense with the demands of a Grand National and the normal relative closeness in time of the Cheltenham Festival – This year it is worth noting that a bigger time gap than normal exists. In fact, of all of the last ten runners, all had a race between three and eight weeks prior to the national – Race fit but not jaded is what we want.

Classy – Of the last ten winners, all had won at class one level, with one exception who held a second in a class one race.

The Majors Grand National Tip

After a thorough contemplation of the trends, who does the Major tip in the Grand National?

Firstly I think Synchronised is the worst possible favourite. The exertions of a Gold Cup will surely tell and I am not even sure his jumping will stand up to the National fences.

Alfa Beat has experience of the fences after falling four out in last years Topham Chase. 66/1 is too big but not the main selection.

West End Rocker is a real likely sort at 14/1. He hits the profile exactly and I think is an excellent bet.

Junior is on a very lenient mark and is considered at 16s.

I would be a big fan of Cappa Bleu but he has not seen these fences before so he doesn’t make the cut.

Seabass is Irelands ‘Hunt Ball’ having been raised 61lbs for a winning sequence that goes back over two years, no National fence experience but 22/1 seems decent.

Always Right hits many trends and his Scottish National place bodes well, 28/1 and of some interest.

Killyglen was seemingly staying on and running at least into the places last year when he came down three out. In his youth, his reputation was sky-high and this season he has had a wind op. 20/1…. mmmmmm.

Grand National Tip: On balance, two of these really appeal…

Killyglen is my main selection at 20/1, I think he could run a blinder. He stays forever and if the wind op has improved him, as the evidence this season suggest, then he meets so many of my criteria and has been dropped 5lbs since last year in the National Weights….

West End Rocker at 14/1 looks a very likely type too and he also stays forever – Worth a bite!

1.45 Aintree Mersey Novice Tip

Simonsig is all the rage after his impressive Cheltenham win but backing a 1/2 shot to go in again in these different conditions is a fast track to the poorhouse in the Major’s view.

Instead I suggest a slice of Aland Island at 9/1 who has proven stamina and I think could be a threat to the favourite.

2.50 Aintree Tip

Rock on Ruby is the last of four champions of Cheltenham to appear at Aintree. Finians Rainbow and Big Bucks have already upheld their status, Synchronised is unlikely to do so in the National but Rock on Ruby looks the value of the lot at 9/4 here.

While Zarkander at 5/2 has hope of improving for distance, I have always considered the same to be true of Rock on Ruby.

I would be very surprised if he does not go in again. Granted, Oscar Whisky won this last year but I feel my horse has more scope. Strong Tip.

3.25 Aintree – Handicap

A riddle of a handicap and the Majors tip goes to Brackloon High. This one disappointed me when I put him up for his Cheltenham engagement but I am willing to give another chance.

5.05 Aintree Handicap Tip

This is another precarious handicap but my 5.05 Aintree tip goes to 12/1 Dream Esteem who looks sure to improve further. I thought Dee Ee Williams was in with a shout as well as Constant Contact and Kazlian, the latter of which was given a poor ride at Cheltenham having committed way too early.

Tips for the Aintree Bumper

On Thursday, I suggested you go to Twitter and seek advice from the @kingofbumpers for the last. He obliged with the 6/1 winner! My idea of the winner is either Population or Il Presidente at 7/2 and 16/1 – I am going to back both for wins.

In other sports……..

A couple of stand out football bets for the Major – Blackburn look dreadful and I think Swansea will beat them 20/21. I also think QPR to win at West Brom is a 27/10 steal in a game they will be up for.

May your dinner be of high quality with company that matches. Tip well and have fun, we drift by the once and the items that come our way on the flow of the tide should be ceased upon. Lap it all up, enjoy it and ask no questions.

The Relevance of Trends with Lisa Simpson.

As promised, the genius of Lisa Simpson to aid the point!

Homer: There’s not a single bear in sight—the ‘Bear Patrol’ is working like a charm”

Lisa retorts: That’s specious reasoning

Homer: Thanks, honey

Lisa: According to your logic,she says, picking up a stone from their lawn, this rock keeps tigers away

Homer: Hmmm. How does it work?

Lisa: It doesn’t.

Homer: How so?

Lisa: It’s just a rock, but I don’t see a tiger, anywhere.

Homer : Lisa, while pulling out his wallet, I want to buy your rock.

Courage, shuffle those cards.

Cheltenham Festival Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle.. All aboard!

Good evening from the Major who writes to you on Cheltenham Eve, the most exciting night of the year, all good boys and girls should get to sleep, right after you have sorted out that lucky 15!

Geraghty says he is the best he has sat on.... The aeroplane that is Sprinter Sacre - photo courtesy of the marvelous http://www.facebook.com/GoodToSoftPhotography

I have already posted my antepost tips for Cheltenham a week ago but I am planning to write short pieces advising of any notes and fancies in the next days runners.Enjoy, have fun and remember Tom Segals words last week in Sundays paper – It is not as important as we feel, have fun but keep perspective.

Tuesday Cheltenham Tips

Here we go, here are the Majors tips for the opening day of Cheltenham.

The Supreme Novices 1.30

The Supreme novices can be a very tricky race in which to find the winner, there are plenty of red-hot candidates.

Good ground means we can rule a few out but not many and Agent Archie, Darlan, Galileos Choice and Montbazon are all high on the Majors list.

Other options include Tetlami who has done nothing wrong and Prospect Wells who may improve for his wind op and goes for Paul Nicholls who has run two winners in the last 8 years.

The two I like best though are Steps to Freedom and Trifolium and it is with the former that I will stake my first claim on the enemies satchel.  He is fine on the ground and has plenty of top class bumper form.  It might worry many that he has been put away for this for so long but Harrington knows exactly what she is doing and she is a trainer I admire.  7/1 generally but I don’t mind waiting as I think it might drift.

The Major had a lovely 12/1 winner on this horse at last years National meeting and since I gave it to a betting syndicate of the finest Birmingham chaps, I was a popular man that day.

2.05 Cheltenham – The Arkle

Already Advised: Menorah 11/1

In my antepost piece, I was keen on Menorah as I think he is under rated and over priced.  Too much is made of previous jumping errors which his trainer is well capable of sorting out.  I am happy enough with the antepost ticket but have to say that Sprinter Sacre may make this field look like handicappers.

Not often that my head is turned by a jockey’s comment but Barry Geraghty at the weekend said that Sprinter Sacre is the best horse he has ever sat on!  Consider he rode the mighty Moscow Flyer and well…..

3pts win Sprinter Sacre 10/11.  Don’t forget Paddy Power are offering a refund if Sacre wins, refund on your bet.

Al Ferof wants a punch up according to Ruby, I think Sprinter Sacre will be too classy to mix it like that.  Cue Card leading from the front sounds like a disaster to me, simply setting up some nice pace for the others to aim at.

2.40 JLT Handicap

Back in 1998, Unguided Missile took this race off eleven stone ten.  It was one of three horses to win off more than eleven stone in the last fifteen years and the other two were off eleven stone two.  Another interesting trend is that of six year olds which have not won in that time frame, which sort of puts a line through Our Mick and Mossley who has been a bit suspect over fences.

That is the Majors starting point – I want, ideally, sub eleven stone and I want a good ground horse.

Of interest are Hold on Julio who is a very good Alan King horse, on the upgrade and for a trainer that has won this handicap twice in the last ten years.

Baile Anrai is the other horse of interest, the Ian Williams chaser will appreciate the ground and 14/1 is fair.

I am going to take a slice of both at 13/2 and 14/1, I do not mind being double handed in this race.

Champion Hurdle Tips

Already Advised: Rock on Ruby 14/1

My antepost selection has come in to 10/1 and I am happy enough with my early selection.  Zarkander may prove a better horse, particularly at two miles but I think this race may pan out for Rock on Ruby who will be staying on to best effect at the hill.

The only horse I have eyes for outside of the selection is Hurricane Fly who looks the likeliest winner.

The Cross Country

The Major is not a fan, take pin, close eyes, jab paper, walk to bookie, make deposit, immediately eat ticket.

The Mares Hurdle

Quevega will surely win this; 1/2 is prohibitive so no bet.

5.15 Novice Handicap Chase

The Major has often advertised the antics of Hunt Ball’s owner, Anthony Knott.  He jumped on board Hunt Ball when entering the winners enclosure and when riding his first winner for 27 years of amateur riding, celebrating before the line with an unorthodox riding style to boot, genius.  If he wins, there is one place I want to be, the winners enclosure because I am sure he is unable to hold himself back at Cheltenham and with the cameras on him!

Triolo D’alene is a classy looking import that is sure to go well, 7/1 is very fair.

Going Wrong is an oddly strong fancy at 11/1 though.  Ferdy Murphy has won two runnings of this race and the selection has been very strong at Sedgefield.  Russell is an interesting jockey booking, a rider rarely used by the shrewd trainer, all in, I think this is a very good bet.

We are through the eye of the needle brace warriors.

The Majors Antepost Tips for Cheltenham Festival – 40/1, 25/1 and more

The time has come for the Major to reveal exactly which horses I want in my portfolio before the tapes go up on Tuesday 13th March and the famous roar echos around the Gloucestershire air.

Antepost betting can be terrific fun and equally incredibly frustrating and the Major normally would recommend getting involved in Cheltenham betting only at this stage.

Markets for the main Cheltenham races open immediately after the preceding years event has been run.  However, getting on early means you do not have the benefit of an entire years form knowledge, you do not see the improvers or judge the injury, prep or yard form; you do not know which horses are planned to be stepped up in trip or to go chasing.

Crucially, the vast majority of bookmakers have now gone non-runner, no-bet.  This simply means a refund if your horse does not make it to the start line!  Now is the time for the Major to roll out his Cheltenham antepost tips.

The festival is such a competitive betting commercial space, you also get the plethora of offers from bookies keen to get you in the habit of using their account ahead of the week.  The Major will make no bones about advising which offers you should go for.  The stand out must be Paddy Power who are offering a refund on your horse in the Arkle, if Sprinter Sacre is beaten.  That will cost them a lot of money and we should be in the queue to take advantage.

I have broken my thoughts down into each day – I am not trying to cover every race, just my main thoughts……

One horse I don’t think will turn up (unless the heavens open) and I will miss is the Gigginstown horse, Bog Warrior.  I think this is the best chaser in the making and look forward to an exciting future but his runs require soft conditions…  Lets hope Aintree or Punchestown is soft enough.

Champion Trainer and Champion Jockey

My first antepost bet of the week has to be in the top trainer market where you can get 25/1 about Alan King (William Hill).  He has a decent portfolio of chances in the handicaps and in Grumeti, looks to have a warm prospect, it can be just a handful of horses required to win a top trainer prize at the festival. 

I would also recommend a small stake on Daryl Jacob to pick up top jockey at 40/1.  If some of the Mullins horses do not travel over well or are faced by very good conditions, then I fancy getting some Mullins / Walsh mounts turned over.  This then gives Daryl Jacob a great chance of winning a few on the best alternate Nicholls rides…. just a thought. 

Cheltenham Tuesday Tips – Champion Hurdle, The Arkle….

Firstly, go to Ladbrokes and claim your free £5 bet!  You have to do it online and you have to deposit but that’s it; a completely free £5 bet for Cheltenham’s Tuesday card….

The racing – Let’s start with the Arkle.  There is no way that you should back anything unless it is with Paddy Power in this race. 

Cue Card, 8/1, has been touted by his jockey as a likely front runner, which I do not think will do him much favour.  Peddlers Cross, 9/2, is likely to line up here but may take his chances in the Champion Chase, where he is a top price 20/1, or the Jewson, 6/1.  I would put him in the Champion Chase if I owned him as I think it is a weak Champion Chase this year, more of that later.  Al Ferof at 4/1 is too short for me, although Ruby wants to oppose Sprinter Sacre with him, I am not sure there is enough in the price for a horse that has looked just short of top class.  Sprinter Sacre has been described as an aeroplane and does look top drawer, the likely winner but in a race that has a habit of turning those sorts over!

Thus, the antepost Arkle selection for the Major is Menorah at 11/1 with Paddy Power.   I cannot forget that the placed form in last years Champion Hurdle and despite the horse needing to put many excuses behind, it is entirely possible that the festival is the place to do it.  Plus with a refund available is Sprinter Sacre does go in…. well, value indeed.

In the JLT Handicap Chase, I do quite fancy Walkon at 20/1 who likes Cheltenham and has some fair class; these staying handicap chases often suit a classy horse and I want this one on my side.

The Champion Hurdle – The antepost market for the Champion Hurdle has been dominated by Hurricane Fly.  The injury prone Irish star showed all his class last year to smash his field, although on reflection, was it the strongest? 

Although Binocular was reported back to his all time best at Wincanton last time, the Major has severe doubts about whether we will see that form or what it adds up to. 

Zarkander looks good but has to overcome a serious lack of experience and 5/1 is no price. 

Once again, the Major is looking down the list at something that might run a bigger race and the pen stops at Rock on Ruby at 14/1.  This horse will be staying on to best effect at the end of the race and I just have a feeling that things might fall in his lap rather.  It could be a fairly small Champion Hurdle field and things may get messy.

Cheltenham Wednesday Tips – The Champion Chase, The Neptune, Coral Cup and RSA Chase

This years Champion Chase looks a fairly poor renewal.  As much as I know the yard can prepare for the big run, it looks like Big Zebs best days are behind him.

This leaves Sizing Europe, a best priced 11/10 shot and Finians Rainbow at 5/1.  Now it has cost me money, but I am still of the view that Sizing Europe is very beatable and I am going to keep that instinct.  My issue is that I do not think the horse to do it is Finians Rainbow, at least not this year.

Once again the Major’s eyes are wandering down the list and I settle on Wishfull Thinking a general 16/1 shot.  Again a horse with some questions to answer but one with definite talent and not just place claims in my view.

The Coral Cup may be a handicap where we are yet to see the well weighted horse.  Therefore I am holding my judgement until after the Imperial Cup next weekend but would register an early interest in Smad Place at 16/1.

The RSA chase is all about whether Grand Crus turns up or not.  Personally I would run him in the Gold Cup.  I suspect though that connections will go for the RSA and use Kauto’s declaration of fitness (Assuming that comes) as  the decision point.  Whichever race he turns up in, I am very interested in Grand Crus who has taken to regulation fences extremely well.  9/4 therefore that he wins the RSA is a price from heaven and we should all be relieving Sportingbet of the weight of their satchel.

The Neptune is another race in which I fancy the favourite.  Now that Henderson has declared this the target for Simonsig, I think the 7/2 with Boylesports represents great value.  There is not a massive amount of quality in behind this (spare Boston Bob who may not line up) so I have no hesitation in getting on early and large.  This is an ideal antepost market to tip as it looks like the favourites price will only go one way.

If you want a tip for the Champion Bumper, you are in the wrong place!  Try @kingofbumpers on Twitter on the day!

Cheltenham Thursday Tips – World Hurdle, Jewson and Ryanair

Big Bucks is so dominant in the World Hurdle market, it is hard to find an obvious piece of value.  It is there though, in the w/o Big Bucks prices.

Oscar Whisky has been touted as a real credible threat to the champion and while the Major will believe that when he can see it, 7/4 (Hills, Power, Coral and Boylesports) is a fine price. 

Although the market says he will, I don’t think Peddlers Cross will line up ion the Jewson which makes last years festival winner, Sir Des Champs, my selection at 6/1.

The Ryanair could be a cracking race this year and while Riverside Theatre returning from injury to great form shapes the market, it is Irish raider Noble Prince who the Major wants on side.  6/1 is the price, have a big slice and thank me later.

Cheltenham Friday – The Gold Cup, The Triumph

The Triumph has been shaping up well in the last month with the principles being taking each other.  I am putting two up to back at win stakes; Pearl Swan, 8/1 Paddy Power) and Grumeti, 5/1 (Generally).  I think this is the best form line and neither will mind the Cheltenham hill, a test many others in the field are to face into yet.

The Gold Cup is hugely interesting race this year.  I am assuming that Kauto turns up, which is no certainty.  If he does, he has been racing with the mind of a six year old, clearly noone has told the great horse that he is in his veteran years!  That said, I would urge anyone who would back Kauto with money and not just heart, to rewatch last years Gold Cup and King George.  There lies all the evidence you need that despite Long Run being scruffy at fences, he will outstay Kauto.

Long Run at 13/8 with a clear round is a great price but it is the clear round that bothers me.  I also do not think this is the horses fault but rather the amateur jockey – I am afraid that the Major is in the camp that would like to see Geraghty on board and really see how great this horse can be.

The antepost tip though is two-fold and buried way down the list.  I think this years Gold Cup has got the hallmarks of a race that could go to a massive outsider.  Long Run might jump his way out of it, Kauto and Grand Crus might not be there, Burton Port might bounce.

The two I am interested in are What a Friend and Captain Chris, both at 40/1 – What a Friend ran to a place last year and is sure to be in the mix, Captain Chris has quality but has run a season of shockers.  That said, he has always looked a spring horse and so I am relying on him coming back to form.  Mainly, let’s hope that Kauto gets there and gives a good race to bow out on.

That is it, the full Cheltenham portfolio.  Whatever you do, bet an amount that makes you nervous, else you won’t enjoy it as you should!

The Majors Christmas Special – Kempton King George Tips, Dundalk Bank Builder too

Christmas seems to be an obsession in the modern age, a concept people desperately cling to in the vain hope that it can provide meaning, happiness or satisfaction in their void souls. These people are not like us, they do not gamble and have never felt the thrill or despair that a gentleman gambler experiences. Feel pity, as quoted of Jesus in Luke, forgive them, they know not what they do.

All the Major wants for Christmas is Kauto Star getting round Kempton well and coming back to the festival for a last hoorah

It feels like a quarter of the year is entirely and pointlessly focussed on 25th December. Children have an expectation, they seem unable to comprehend that it is not a right. While Christmas can be wonderful if small, well meant and subtle, too often it is a time of dry turkey, contrived fun, dreadful entertainment, the worst of western consumerism and for the punting man, very little sport to distract from the sheer terror of it all. I recommend the pub.

A solitary card at Dundalk on Friday is all that remains before the curtain comes down and the two-day racing blackout of Christmas Eve and Day. Two entire days of nothing, deadness, silence in the dark, have the will to say hold on dear friends, hold fast, do not break that line for there is light and hope. Redemption cometh.

Yes, the Majors mantra is to remain relentlessly positive, perhaps the enforced break offers a silver lining. The Majors tips are going through an extended period of dire form, from which I find myself unable to break free, Christ, even the regulars are complaining.

We must look at the break as a moment of reflection. Perhaps it provide the needed opportunity to change. If that makes the black-out medicine palatable, the glorious Kempton Boxing Day King George card, makes it wholly worthwhile.

Boxing day Kempton, for a jump racing fan, is one of the years glorious moments, top quality racing and the time to enjoy it… crafted by Jesus, rubber stamped by Sir Clement Freud, who I am sure sits at the same table.

The real beauty is that it comes after these two days of nothing. Like a thirsty man lost in the desert, when he finds water, he is tempted to gulp, so I caution you appropriately. The Major has posted King George tips 72 hours in advance so when the madness sets in, we will not be tempted by momentary urges bought on by the panic of two days, sans racing.

If you are reading this before Christmas, I can assure you that purchasing a bet for someone is a wonderful present. A little patent on the three Kempton selections below could make someone very happy indeed. It is indeed a thoughtful gift.

Before we contemplate Kemptons glories on the other side of the chasm, we have one chance to build a war chest, this side of Christmas. There are a handful of races on the all weather track at Dundalk tonight and the Major has a fancy.

Friday Dundalk Tip

I wonder if the Mullins and Murtagh partnership, which is an exceptionally rare occurrence, have teamed up to take the opener (5pm). Why would I feel it is a strange time for a rare Mullins and Murtagh tie up? Well the race is in honour of Ireland and Dundalks champion jockey… Johnny Murtagh! The forecast SP is 14/1 and I am going to follow my nose and get stuck in at anything over 8s.

The horse itself, Dougal Philps, is not disgraced on its first run. Mullins is in fine form too. Interesting runner, interesting race in honour of the top jock, interesting stable booking, all very interesting, 14/1… very very interesting!!

Load the cannon for Boxing Day…

King George Kempton Card – Tips for the King George Chase

The Major set up a gambling club this year with a group of fair men, we named it the King George Gambling Syndicate. The net result of the club is that we have £1183 to unleash on the King George and where the money is placed is entirely up to Mr Anthony Dipper.

These are the Majors thoughts on what is an exceptional race in exceptional times. If you do not share the Majors view that this is the best era of jump racing for many decades, consider this potted history…

Tipping the King George looked easy enough at the start of the season. Long Run had just broken the track record in his Cheltenham Gold Cup win. At the unlikely age of 6, he was evidently the new king, no question. I was on big at 5s for his Gold Cup win, following the Holmes logic that once you have ruled out every other possibility, what remains is truth. It was obvious why I was a believer, the evidence was all there.

Long Run is a horse I have followed with interest. I remember being stood within yards of Henderson and his entourage when Long Run failed to fire in the 2010 RSA (Henderson just mixes it with the crowd at the festival, I can tell you exactly where he will be stood again in March). You could see the mood with connections that day was pretty low, it left me thinking that it was not the result they were expecting. That and Hendersons comments about the horse just stuck with me, he was clearly loved at home.

Long Run lost the RSA that day at Cheltenham and then the Paddy Power in November. Both races he lost because he has a tendency to see his fences poorly. Henderson has had the horse with Yogi schooling those fences between each run and he is desperate to get him jumping well because clearly he is top draw.

Then came the postponed 2010 King George and Kauto’s impenetrable crown was whipped from him by Long Run. The evidence was now building for the Major that Long Run was the new king.

This was cemented as fact in the Majors mind when in March 2011 at the Gold Cup, the real Long Run landed, winning the Blue Riband race and setting a new track record. Job done.

Thus you can understand why I came into this season thinking that he would be unbeatable and that the old guard were spent. Thanks for the memories Kauto, now move over and let the new young gun in.

It was so simple, neat and tidy but noone had read the script to Kauto, Nicholls, Walsh and the Dicheat team.

As soon as the new order was constructed in such orderly fashion, the Betfair Chase at the start of this season destroyed all certainty. Kauto came back and demolished Long Run doing some serious damage to the track record in the process. It has to be one of Kautos best performances, akin to the 2009 King George.

If you took Kauto Star out of the Betfair Chase, the Long Run view would still have held. After all, he finished second by just 8 lengths which would have been close to a track record and don’t forget he had walked through one fence and was scruffy at many others (same old Long Run, oddly enough this was Kautos issue as a younger horse, that french style).

We must also remember that Kauto was tuned up to his best but Henderson hinted that he had left some off Long Run. With a clean round, could Long Run have emerged as the champ? Could he really have beaten Kauto?

Without Kauto in that race, we would still be celebrating Long Run as the new hero of the chase track… but Kauto was there, wasn’t he, it was no dream, although it was unbelievable, it happened, he did it, he bloody did it. I know because I watched it.

If Kauto wins again on boxing day, it will be his fifth King George. Should it happen, it is record for eternity, one that will remain, as the universe which has expanded across the millenia, begins to reverse, once again all matter is bought together being crushed, under unfathomable pressures to the size of a matchbox, before exploding and expanding in the next cycle of relentless Big Bangs.

Perhaps in the next universe a horse might take six King Georges, still seems unlikely and if it does happen, it is not a universe that the Major cares for. Good luck to them.

Who will win though on the day? So you need a tip for the King George?

I do think the preparedness is key. In the Betfair, Kauto was 100%, I think connections wanted to silence the voices that were calling for retirement by showing them that a fit Kauto has the zest to carry on. It would be a masterful training performance to take his older legs, get him rested and then back for this.

Long Run will have had this as the main target and is likely to be in a better physical condition. I am in two minds over the track. One part of me thinks that Kempton will suit; but they can go at a fair clip into those fences down the back and if he is not foot perfect, we could see that traditional Long Run error. That could be crucial.

Of the other runners, Masterminded has never tried three miles but Nicholls is stepping him up anyway. Nicholls though had this as a plan for some time, I think Masterminded will be well tuned up and if he stays he is interesting. He used to struggle with two and a half miles although those days seem behind him. I think he will stay and, controversially, I think he will beat Kauto, there I have said it, will he beat the others though?

Johnson has been raving about Captain Chris. His last run was too bad to be true and an infection was to blame. If recovered, this horse could still be ready to show us more. Place prospects but overall I think I prefer the win chances of Long Run and Masterminded.

Overall, I am minded to bet on Masterminded. As much as Long Run could be the next best thing, I think three miles around Kempton is going to be Mastermindeds’ ideal condition. He takes his fences so well at pace just like his stablemate, Kauto, and I think that will buy him enough lengths. Under pressure Long Run is prone to error and I just suspect that Kauto will not be seen in the same light as The Betfair.

Masterminded is currently 8.8 on Betfair, get stuck in and wish me Merry Christmas.

The Christmas Hurdle

Much less of a write-up on this race but no less a fascinating clash, even if a little less high-profile.

We have the barrel chested Binocular, who seems to have two ways of racing, JP McManus and Nicky Henderson had their day in the sun when he returned to win a Champion Hurdle in 2010 but since then (and prior to it), Binocular has been inconsistent and at times poor. I think he is a hard horse to get fit and needs a lot to fall right so 2/1 is not for me.

The second market leader is Overturn, who seems to love as much racing as possible. He relishes getting his nose in front and understands what is required but the suspicion is that he is just short of Champion Hurdle class. That might be enough to win this anyway.

The final of the trio that head the market is exciting prospect Rock on Ruby. While the form of his festival second to First Lieutenant is not as strong a CV as the others, his reappearance run suggested he is a star in the making. Although someway short on official BHA rankings, he could clearly take another giant leap forward and take this.

I am getting on Rock on Ruby at 2/1 and also may purchase a 16/1 Champion Hurdle ticket ahead of Boxing Day as a Christmas gift for some lucky soul!

The Feltham

This looks like a straight punch up between three exciting chasers in Grand Crus, Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth.

As much as Grand Crus has impressed, Bobs Worth did just a little bit more for the Major in his recent defeat of Cue Card. That day, Bobs Worth travelled well until smacking four out. Then it was time for Geraghty to earn his riding fee, in a superb demonstration of the great jockeys horsemanship, he relaxed the horse, got him back into a rhythm and up on the line to win.

Silviniaco Conti has done little wrong. His 5l defeat to Menorah was decent form, though it must be said that twice he has finished behind Cue Card who seems a better hurdler. Conti now seems to have improved based on the awesome win at Wincanton on reappearance. For me 9/2 is a superb price, Nicholls has been sweet on this horse and I fancy conditions will be perfect.

Merry Christmas to you all from the Major. May it pass with a warm glow in your heart. Let us deal with the peripheral noise and come back Boxing Day, clear minded and show our intent to the enemy ahead of the New Year.

There it is, the Majors tips for Kempton, I wish you the best. I will be posting at some point in the festive period more tips (We have the Welsh National for a start) and also my promised guide to the best 2011 horseracing moments. If you did not see the Sportingbet.com podcast, the Major got an almighty mention from their team (follow the link, it’s about 7:45 in). Was pleased to see that my top moment made a great splash there and was also selected by the Racing Post as their number one moment too.

Courage followers, shuffle those cards, it is darkest, before the dawn.